CBS Programming VP Len DeLuca says the network did not
threaten or give an ultimatum to NASCAR officials during Sunday's
rain-delayed Daytona 500. DeLuca: "We don't issue ultimatums.
The big bad network message is not one I like to see written."
Monday's WASHINGTON TIMES reported that NASCAR officials "paraded
the field under caution for about 20 miles to finish drying the
track so the race could be restarted by 3:45 p.m. keeping CBS
from 'pulling the plug' and switching to basketball." DeLuca
says CBS moved the tipoff on its Michigan-Indiana game to
accommodate the rain delay. DeLuca: "Our first decision is that
the Daytona 500 is the priority." DeLuca says the network's
decision to move the tipoff was "entirely in terms of when the
race would have to be restarted to complete almost two hours of
competition before darkness, rather than suggesting the game
would be broadcast to hold viewers." According to DeLuca, the
race was the top-rated sporting event of the weekend, with a 6.6
rating. Even the rain-delayed portion finished ahead of the
Knicks-Rockets on NBC when the two competed head-to-head.
Daytona's delay had a 5.5 rating compared to the NBA's 5.4 (Frank
Murray, WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/23).
CBS Radio and the NFL have announced the signing of a four-
year contract extension for national radio rights to regular and
post-season games, starting in '95. The new contract covers a
53-game package, including 41 regular-season games and all 12
post-season games. Spanish language coverage in the U.S.,
through the CBS Americas, includes four post-season games and the
Super Bowl. CBS Radio has held the NFL rights since '78 (CBS
Viacom's '94 gross earnings rose to $608M last year, up from
$385M in '93. However, the company lost $50M in the 4thQ of '94
and had a drop in '94 net earnings of 48% to $89M. The $17B
acquisitions of Blockbuster and Paramount were "blamed" by
company officials for the drop (USA TODAY, 2/23)....Former umpire
Steve Palermo, who left the game after being crippled in a Dallas
shooting, was added to the Yankees' MSG broadcast crew (N.Y.
DAILY NEWS, 2/23).... Rating results are in for the first two
events of NBC's five-meet track & field series. The Millrose
Games on February 3 earned a 2.2, the Reno Air Games of February
10 earned a 2.1. Track officials before the tour said they would
be "ecstatic" with ratings above 3.0. NBC Sports spokesperson Ed
Markey: "The numbers don't have us turning cartwheels, but
they're pretty darn good for something new" (USA TODAY, 2/23)
TURNER & TCI EYE TIME WARNER'S TBS SHARES: Ted Turner and
TCI are negotiating to "jointly purchase" Time Warner's 19.4%
stake in Turner Broadcasting, according to this morning's WALL
STREET JOURNAL. Under the newest proposed deal, Time Warner has
dropped "its insistence that it receive" an asset such as the
Cartoon Network in exchange for Turner stock, instead, Time
Warner is expected to receive "a premium above" Turner's stock
price. Under a proposed joint purchase, TCI "will clearly have
more clout with Turner. ... Mr. Turner, meanwhile, might have
more flexibility to pursue his dream of acquiring a network"
(Sharpe & Shapiro, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/23).
SHAKE-UP AT BLACK ROCK: According to this morning's WALL
STREET JOURNAL, CBS Inc. is expected to name Peter Lund as
president of its Broadcast Group, succeeding Howard Stringer, who
has reached an agreement to head an interactive video venture
being launched by three Baby Bells. Stringer's new post, which
is expected to be announced today, has been rumored for several
weeks. Lund is currently an Exec VP at CBS Broadcast Group.
Lund had "primary responsibility" for renegotiating the NFL deal
CBS lost to Fox (Jensen & Lippman, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/23).
According to CNN's Steve Young, analysts told "Moneyline" that
outgoing QVC Chair Barry Diller is the most likely candidate to
replace Stringer. Analysts speculate that the new company being
headed by Stringer could make a run at CBS, but CNN's Young
reports that "there are roadblocks," such as federal regulations
that prohibit phone companies from owning TV stations. Young
reports that Disney could also be interested in making a play for
CBS. Paul Marsh, NatWest Securities media analyst: "Disney has
a real strategic interest. It has content. This would get it
closer to the advertising dollar" ("Moneyline," CNN, 2/22).